WandaVision, the six-hour series about Elizabeth Olsen’s reality-altering witch and Paul Bettany’scharming android, takes inspiration from beloved TV comedies, from campy 1950s classics to the zany family shows of the ’90s. So for its premiere episode, Marvel’s first Disney+ TV show went full midcentury sitcom, filming in classic black and white in front of a live studio audience (all of whom signed very, very strict NDAs).
Originally, the first Marvel Studios series that was supposed to launch was Falcon and the Winter Soldier. The story would pick up as Falcon tries to assume the mantle as the new Captain America however a new threat rises that thrusts him into teaming up with Bucky, AKA, The Winter Soldier. However, due COVID-19, that series was pushed back to 2021.
Enter WandaVision, which is a zany comedy with a dark secret. It’s a gamble of a show that was not intended to be Marvel Studios first step into television but could potentially end up being their biggest surprise hit.
Bettany and Olsen rehearsed their entrances and exits as if putting on a play, and at first, they say the notion of live performance terrified them more than any Marvel supervillain. But by the time they secured their first audience chuckle, the pair realized they might have missed their calling as sitcom stars. “It was insanity,” Olsen, 31, says with a laugh. “There was something very meta for my own life because I would visit those tapings as a kid, where my sisters were working [on Full House].”
“We were all so high by the end of it, we wanted to keep on running the show,” Bettany, 49, adds. “Maybe take it out on tour or something. WandaVision on ice.”
After 2019’s Avengers: Endgame closed out the Infinity Saga (and served as a dramatic retirement party for several of the franchise’s heroes), 2020 was supposed to launch what Marvel calls Phase 4: Black Widowand Eternals and the aforementioned Falcon and the Winter Soldier. However, WanadaVision was the series that was more further to completion and in the end got the green light to debut first on Disney+.
Disney first came to Marvel about two years ago and tasked its creative team with developing new projects for its soon-to-debut streamer Disney+. Marvel had found TV success before, both with Netflix’s Daredevil,Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones, which were produced separately, and with the ABC shows Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, which followed characters directly from the big-screen Marvel movies. But these Disney+ shows would be something new: miniseries produced entirely by Marvel Studios, with full creative control and character-driven stories that would more explicitly tie in to their big-screen counterparts. Explains Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige: “It really energized everyone creatively at the studio, the notion that we could play in a new medium and throw the rules out the window in terms of structure and format.”
It was Feige who came up with the idea to take Wanda Maximoff and Vision — two fan favorites from the Avengers movies — and set them in a strange fantasy world of suburban bliss. The exec is a self-professed sitcom nerd who grew up on Nick at Nite and has made a habit of watching MeTV reruns before starting his workday.
At the end of the day perhaps this is the palate cleaner that fans need after an epic like Avengers Endgame. Despite its humorous looking first look images don’t get it twisted. Under the mirage of a happy go lucky sitcom is something sinister and will change how we look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward. Unlike Agents of Shield or the now defunct Marvel Netflix shows, WandaVision will impact future Marvel films. It’s already rumored this series will lead right into the planned Doctor Strange sequel.
WandaVision is expected to debut in December 2020 on Disney+, and will consist of six episodes.